Google’s advertising under fire by FTC

It’s not the first time Google has come under scrutiny by the FTC, but this time it’s whether the world’s favourite search engine is using its advertising platform to harm the competition.

“With great power, comes great responsibility” is a quote which comes to mind when speaking about a giant like Google, and I’m not sure Spiderman would approve of how Google is handling its responsibility to provide fair ground for advertising.

According to The Washington Post, the investigation comes after Google’s buyout of DoubleClick in 2008, bought for a cool $3.1 billion. Of course, it’s worth noting at this point Google already runs an advertising solution known as ‘AdSense’.

It’s the ownership of both platforms which puts Google on FTC’s radar; forcing consumers to choose between the same product by the same company is known as “tying” and is seen as anti-competitive and against the law.

The case is still in its preliminary stage, and we will have to wait to see the results before deciding if any laws have indeed been broken.

Last year, the FTC raised another complaint with the company over advertising, which was finally settled through Google having to provide further access to search result feedback APIs and be able to “opt out” of Google’s services such as ‘Places’ which pull in company data, like Yelp’s.

Yelp complained saying its own results were not being shown; whilst the data was still being used by Google to bolster its own services.

An irreverent quote from the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research sums it up, comparing Google to Lindsey Lohan: “Letting Google off with a letter promising not to do it again is like believing Lindsey Lohan will stay out of trouble this time.”

Do you think Google is being responsible with its advertising? Or will trouble be just around the corner again?

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